William Jay Hollifield
14 March 1932 – Gastonia, NC
10 July 2019 – Sun City, CA
William Jay Hollifield was called home by his maker, 10 July 2019. He has been in failing health for about six months; but did make a remarkable recovery from surgery to repair a break in his right leg just below his hip, suffered on his 86th birthday.
It was that tenacity that best described his service to his God and Country; his compassion for those less fortunate than he; and, of course, his lifelong devotion to his beloved Marilyn, who he has now joined for eternity.
“Uncle Bill” grew up in the piedmont area of South Carolina. His parents, Jay Hughey and Pearl Gertrude (Hodge) Hollifield, divorced when he was about eight years old. Later in life, he would recall picking cotton to help his family make ends meet, and of pulling his wagon a couple of miles each way to retrieve block ice for the household.
Strick discipline was the norm in the home, but by his 17th year he had enough. Lying about his age, he enlisted in the US Navy.
Joining the USS Frank E Evans in 1950 as a Machinist Mate 3. He served throughout the Korean War on the Evans.
Late during his service on the Evans, he was on shore leave in Long Beach, California, where he took in a wrestling match at the old Municipal Auditorium. Chance put him in the row behind a young woman who was attending the event with her mother. This was the first meeting of Bill and his beloved wife of nearly 64 years, Marilyn Clark. He knew that his best chance to win the daughter was to court the mother, a strategy that paid off with their marriage in February 1954.
After leaving the Navy, Bill worked at the shipyard and in the petrochemical trades in various positions. Eventually he owned a Texaco station near Knott’s Berry Farm.
During the height of Vietnam, he re-enlisted, serving in Da Nang with US Naval Support Services during 1968-1969.
Returning stateside, he drove tanker truck for Texaco, before once again serving his Country – this time in the US Army, where, after four tours of duty in West Germany, he would retire a Chief Warrant Officer 04, in 1991. His last duty station was Fort Lewis, Washington, and he and Marilyn would spend much of their retirement around the Olympia, Washington area.
Not one to while away in retirement, Bill first drove tanker trucks, and then tour buses throughout Southern California and Arizona.
“Uncle Bill” was a Master Mason, a member of the Shrine Knights Templar Commandery, White Shrine, member of the Order of Eastern Star, and a six-time Worthy Patron. He shared his devotion to service with Marilyn, who was a four-time Worthy Matron herself.
He and Marilyn were never blessed with children but took to helping the families of service personnel whom they had befriended. They boasted several god children over the years who stayed active in their lives.
In April 2017, they moved to Sun City to be nearer to family.
Marilyn passed 27 November 2017, leaving Bill with a broken
heart that only now has healed.
Theirs was a love story for the ages, and now are forever together. God’s speed, Chief.
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